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Dagna
Saturday, February 7th, 2009, 02:50 PM
Our Vikings Are Leaving

When one of our old-time heroes, strongman Egill Skallagrímsson, was seven he wrote a poem saying he would go abroad with the Vikings. Now our young and strong are leaving the country, not to plunder, rape or pillage, but to save themselves and their families from bankruptcy.

Thad maelti mín módir
Ad mér skyldi kaupa
Fley og fagrar árar
Fara á brott med víkingum.
("My mother said
I should buy
A boat and beautiful oars
Sail away with Vikings.")
Iceland yesterday. Nearly 9,000 people unemployed (http://forums.skadi.net/redirector.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.icel andreview.com%2Ficelandreview%2Fdaily_ne ws%2F%3Fcat_id%3D16539%26ew_0_a_id%3D317 144). Demonstrations continue with almost 100 people trying to stop the government (http://forums.skadi.net/redirector.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.icel andreview.com%2Ficelandreview%2Fdaily_ne ws%2F%3Fcat_id%3D16567%26ew_0_a_id%3D317 140)from entering a morning conference. Some have black scarves covering their faces. The ministers enters the building where the meeting is held through the backdoors protected by police.
And this is the week before Christmas when everything should be quiet on the political front, people being extremely busy preparing for the Christmas celebrations, which are traditionally highly regarded in Iceland as the festival of peace and light. Celebrated since the Settlement, Christmas, or rather Yule, was highly regarded in the old religion as well; yuletide was a winter solstice celebration.
There is something not right in society when people find time to gather in the cold and black morning to rally against the government on a Tuesday just before Christmas.
There are those who argue that the demonstrators have not really found the real culprits of the economic collapse.
Last night I found a blog where demonstrators discuss various new methods of venting their anger. There was a discussion going on about locating the villas of the 30 or so people who protestors hold responsible, bankers and dodgy businessmen, and dump all the junk mail they’ve been sending us at their doorsteps; especially newspapers that are published by the former owners of the banks. There was one problem, though. The bloggers did not seem to know where these people live.
But there are also those who do not show up at any demonstrations. They are too proud to whine. Three guys I know, all hardened and relatively young construction workers, who used to have high wages and enough projects to choose from, are simply leaving. They can’t live with this situation anymore—construction has come to almost an absolute halt.
They are going to Norway and have found jobs on trawlers in Aalesund. Now they will be fishing for 20 to 30 days in the Barents Sea, out in the dark, freezing Arctic. These guys are not on the unemployment list. All three are true Icelanders. They have children here, girlfriends and wives. They are modern time Vikings, not afraid of adventures or sailing the rough seas, like Skallagrímsson.
And they are poets in their own right like him and big-time storytellers. They are the ones who will tell the folk stories of the kreppa, as depression is called in Icelandic, when Iceland nearly collapsed because of greed and stupidity and lack of regulation.
They will tell tales of their adventures on Norwegian oil rigs and trawlers rolling like corks in the high seas north of Spitsbergen. Some will tell tales of their romantic conquers in Scandinavia.
You might think I am telling a tale of the three Icelandic Musketeers. That is not so. Hundreds are leaving to find a better life elsewhere and hundreds more are thinking about it and planning it. Whole families will move away.
It’s really sad. But this has always happened when depression hits us. Some will come back, others not. But most true Icelanders will wait for happier times to return because their heart belongs here. They will dream of the bright summer nights and landscapes worth sacrificing your life for.
And then there are those who are already living the low life.
I stopped by at a friend’s house today. As we sipped espresso his wife was browsing through their emails.
“There are five more on the list,” she said.
Always sticking my nose in other people’s affairs, I asked. “What, who is on the list?”
“Well,” she said almost reluctantly. “We’ve been helping our neighborhood church out by delivering food packages for Christmas.”
“I go to church every morning for a quiet moment,” my friend said.
If someone has got a peace of mind it’s him. It’s admirable. I hardly know anyone who is as Icelandic as this guy. He has gone through everything, gone from bankruptcy to a very nice life, from mad alcoholism to nearly perfect stability that continues to amaze me. If it takes going to church every morning, I don’t mind him doing it because a better companion is hard to find. I might even try it myself just to keep my lid on.
“So you’re delivering food now,” I said.
“Yes, starting today. Many people are desperate. And they won’t go to the normal outlets that deliver food. They are too ashamed to stand in line. They are afraid that they will be recognized as this is such a small society. So they call their minister and tell him about their worries.”
And the church is actually helping out in a major way. Hundreds of families receive such help. The church delivers the traditional Icelandic Christmas: Smoked lamb, leafbread (http://forums.skadi.net/redirector.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.icel andreview.com%2Ficelandreview%2Fsearch%2 Fnews%2FDefault.asp%3Few_0_a_id%3D250111 ), fruit, candles, candy, even some presents for the kids and other basic things an Icelandic family needs to celebrate yuletide.
I wanted to know more. What kind of people are those in need?
“Well, I’ve been discussing this with my friends and we don’t know any people in need in our circles. But apparently, there is a lot of desperation," my friend’s wife said. “Young women, maybe single with two or three kids, are the ones in the most difficult situation. And they are desperate because they don’t want anyone to know they are in trouble. They would rather starve than stand in line in front of the Mothers’ Aid charity.”
I was flabbergasted. Left speechless.
At least they are doing something to help, I thought when I left after a marvelous shot of espresso and a couple of delicious Sarah Bernard cookies from the freezer. What can I do?
In my car I contemplated how ridiculous it is that everyone will have to pay for the follies of few reckless bankers and businessmen who turned this country into a hedge fund that faltered.
Normal people have lost chunks of their savings because of those people who played with their savings as if it was their own. Common people will get an unusual present from Santa Claus this year; higher taxes, higher prices, cutbacks on social services, unemployment.
Meanwhile the same people are playing the financial trickster games in the banks and the mad companies that caused all this mess are having their debts written off so they can continue their game.
I thought to myself, maybe I can do something good. Maybe I should deliver the list of addresses that the demonstrators are desperately looking for.
There is a second verse to the poem that Skallagrímsson came up with after killing a man with an axe—at the age of seven.
Standa uppi í stafni
Stýra dýrum knerri
Halda svo til hafnar
Höggva mann og annan.
(Stand at the front
Steer the dear longship
Then find harbor
Axe a man and another)
One should not forget the ancestry of Skallagrímsson. Everyone has a rage limit. Skallagrímsson had a really short fuse.
The nation is now calling for arrests and rolling heads. Their calls are not being listened to. Others, many of our best, have left to serve the kings of other nations to save themselves and their families from bankruptcy.
Like Skallagrímsson, who came back a rich man from his adventures with Viking armies, they might come back richer and do their bit to save our economy. But there is a strong possibility that they won't. It’s just sad.

http://www.icelandreview.com/icelandreview/search/news/Default.asp?ew_0_a_id=317158

Imperator X
Saturday, February 7th, 2009, 08:35 PM
Thad maelti mín módir Ad mér skyldi kaupa Fley og fagrar árar Fara á brott med víkingum.
("My mother said I should buy
A boat and beautiful oars Sail away with Vikings.")


I read yesterday the Germans got the verb kaufen "to buy" early on from the Latin caupo "merchant"... If that is true how come Old Norse has kaupa for "buy" if the Romans never got up there?

Huginn ok Muninn
Monday, February 9th, 2009, 01:17 PM
You know, it's so typical that there is no organization I have found to send food to Iceland. There are anti-Germanic Germanics everywhere wanting to send food to Africa or adopt an Indian child, but who will send food to the best of us who have fallen on hard times? I googled "Iceland donations" and found all sorts of things, mostly where Icelanders were giving to others.

If anyone deserves help, it's those who would never ask for it.

Jonathan Eells
Monday, February 9th, 2009, 05:07 PM
There are of course other ways for languages to spread, for instance, the Norse traveling to Roman parts of Europe and learning some Latin. It needn't be that the Romans had to set up shop in a Germanic place for Latin to find its way into the Germanic languages. Note that most foreign countries (to the United States) have their own governments, and yet absolutely everybody in the world says "Okay". Americans rule the world? No, that would be silly (and exhausting).



I read yesterday the Germans got the verb kaufen "to buy" early on from the Latin caupo "merchant"... If that is true how come Old Norse has kaupa for "buy" if the Romans never got up there?

Hauke Haien
Monday, February 9th, 2009, 05:58 PM
There are of course other ways for languages to spread, for instance, the Norse traveling to Roman parts of Europe and learning some Latin. It needn't be that the Romans had to set up shop in a Germanic place for Latin to find its way into the Germanic languages.
It mostly happened because Germanics set up shop in Roman places, although the reverse used to be the case before that. Trade connections with the Roman Empire also played a part.


Note that most foreign countries (to the United States) have their own governments, and yet absolutely everybody in the world says "Okay". Americans rule the world? No, that would be silly (and exhausting).
Not the world, just the West. Cultural hegemony does not indicate population replacement, though. The US prefers instead to replace its own population in accordance with its functional logic, which we were forced to implement as well.


I read yesterday the Germans got the verb kaufen "to buy" early on from the Latin caupo "merchant"... If that is true how come Old Norse has kaupa for "buy" if the Romans never got up there?
If I had to bet, I would say (Middle) Low German influence through trade with North German/Dutch cities. A merchant's vocabulary would be the first thing to be affected by this kind of contact.

Jonathan Eells
Monday, February 9th, 2009, 08:13 PM
So true. And, in a weird bit of linguistic displacement, the East African/Swahili word for "egg" is the German word for egg - Ei. How did THAT happen? And then, when it goes to plural it falls into its own rules for plurals - in the case of Swahili "ei" becomes "mayei". Just a little information.

Tanzania and Kenya used to be "British East Africa" which used to be "Dutch East Africa", but didn't they have their own word for "egg"? Of course they do, but the fact that the German word for egg gained dominance would suggest that the Germans in East Africa made a brisk trade in eggs. That would be a fun paper to write, if I were still in college.





If I had to bet, I would say (Middle) Low German influence through trade with North German/Dutch cities. A merchant's vocabulary would be the first thing to be affected by this kind of contact.

Imperator X
Tuesday, February 10th, 2009, 08:42 PM
If I had to bet, I would say (Middle) Low German influence through trade with North German/Dutch cities. A merchant's vocabulary would be the first thing to be affected by this kind of contact.

Are you referring to the Hanseatic league?

Jonathan Eells
Tuesday, February 10th, 2009, 11:23 PM
I'm sure that the language trading going on here between Latin and German takes place well before the formation of the Hanseatic League, but the dictionaries I have don't include historical etymologies - so I can't answer for certain.

bruno
Wednesday, February 11th, 2009, 08:41 PM
but the Vikings came to Iceland only during the Middle Ages and the relationship of their ancestors with the Romans had already taken place